Coetzee is known as reclusive and avoids publicity to such an extent that he did not collect either of his two Booker Prizes in person. South African writer Rian Malan has said that:
Coetzee is a man of almost monkish self-discipline and dedication. He does not drink, smoke, or eat meat. He cycles vast distances to keep fit and spends at least an hour at his writing-desk each morning, seven days a week. A colleague who has worked with him for more than a decade claims to have seen him laugh just once. An acquaintance has attended several dinner parties where Coetzee has uttered not a single word.
Asked about this comment in an interview by email, Coetzee said, "I have met Rian Malan only once in my life. He does not know me and is not qualified to talk about my character." 
As a result of his reclusive nature, signed copies of Coetzee's fiction are highly sought after. Recognising this, he was a key figure in the establishment of Oak Tree Press's First Chapter Series, limited edition signed works by literary greats to raise money for the child victims and orphans of the African HIV/AIDS crisis.